pairing wine & chocolate?
August 16, 2006 9:51 AM   Subscribe

How does one pair wine and chocolate?

I read this thread, which offered some suggestions on kinds of chocolate to try, but not quite so much how to pair it up with wines. Any suggestions are welcome! I personally tend to prefer red wines and dark chocolate.
posted by canine epigram to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Go to a local wine store (not a big liquor warehouse, though) and talk with the staff there; they'll have good suggestions for you.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 10:14 AM on August 16, 2006

posted by TedW at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2006

Wines are difficult to pair with chocolate but I think you have the already general idea. You want to pick a wine that's sweeter than the chocolate otherwise you'll only pick up on the sour notes.

Dark/bittersweet chocolate - Cabernet Sauvignon, sweeter (overripe) Zinfandel, Port, Cognac, Armagnac, fortified wine varietals
Milk chocolate - Pinot Noir, Merlot, Port, Shiraz (some people turned off by the peppery+sweet combo)
White chocolate - Rose, Sherry, Muscat/Moscato
Fruit chocolate - Muscat/Moscato, Sparkling wine

I've never really had any good experiences with white wines and chocolate (except for the random Riesling) so I've left them out of my list. If you'll be having friends over, it's fun to put out different wines and chocolates and discover good pairings together.
posted by junesix at 10:26 AM on August 16, 2006

There's a southern Oregon blend thats, IIRC, 40% pinot noir, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, & then a mix of some other grapes for the rest. Its pretty close to the best possible thing for chocolate.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2006

I agree with junesix for the most part, but I will say that in tastings I've run, the muscat/chocolate combination tends to repulse more people than it pleases. I'm a firm believer in the idea that dessert wines aren't intended to be drunk as an accompaniment to dessert-- they are dessert.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:41 AM on August 16, 2006

Bourbon is an amazingly good accompaniment to chocolate, and I would think other liquors would be as well (since you often see bourbon-chocolate or rum-chocolate combinations in pies and pastries). I love red wine, but generally hate it with desserts. Are you willing to expand it out to other drinks, or are you committed to sticking with wine?
posted by occhiblu at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2006

I'm willing to consider expanding it (cost is my only barrier) but I don't want to go too crazy - if you have suggestions, please, fire away!
posted by canine epigram at 11:06 AM on August 16, 2006

canine epigram, is your ultimate purpose to showcase different types of chocolates or wines? Few people's palates are attuned to the combined complexity of trying to appreciate subtle flavors in variations of chocolate and wine, let alone in one or the other.

To get the best experience during a tasting, you need a control of sorts. One variable needs to be fixed - either the chocolate or the wine. Let's say you have a good quantity of a great 70% cocoa dark chocolate. For your tasting, sample the chocolate against 3 or 4 good reds, say a merlot, 2 different cabs, and a zinfandel.

Alternatively, if you have a couple bottles of an awesome Cabernet, you could taste this in combination with a milk chocolate, 60% cocoa, and 85% cocoa dark chocolates, preferably from a single chocolatier. For fun, a fruit-infused truffle or two and some raw fruit.

The idea is that you could pick up something different in each permutation against a baseline.
posted by junesix at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2006

I've never experienced a good wine and chocolate pairing. However, I remember a few years ago that Jilly Goolden, the wine expert on BBC's "Food and Drink", suggested that a good Irish stout is excellent paired with dark chocolate.

Never tried it myself, but if the Chocolate Stout they sell at Trader Joe's is anything to go by, it might work.
posted by kar120c at 12:17 PM on August 16, 2006

When I was at the Bonny Doon tasting room, they served their Framboise in tiny cups made out of dark chocolate. I'm normally not a fan of that type of liqueur, but that combination was phenomenal.
posted by ambrosia at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2006

Cocoa Bar in Brooklyn pairs wines and chocolates--not just dessert wines, either. They don't feature any of the pairings online, but if you live in NYC you could head there and see what kind of things they're doing.
posted by LDL_Plackenfatz at 12:59 PM on August 16, 2006

I'm a firm believer in the idea that dessert wines aren't intended to be drunk as an accompaniment to dessert-- they are dessert.

Seconded. And I too am curious about the purpose of the pairing; unless it's for a group of wine/chocolate perverts specialists, I'd keep the two separate, since they usually only detract from each other.
posted by languagehat at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2006

The only purpose is sociality - they don't actually have to be served at exactly the same time.

I wanted to throw a party, with wine, and cheese, and Wallace & Gromit, because, well "Cheese, Gromit, Cheese!"

And then my wife said, "We should have chocolate!"

Who am I to deny her? :)

As long as I pull something together where people have a good time, and eat and drink (I figure, eat cheese first?), it'll be all good. It's all in the formative stages, and subject to revision.

I do plan on selecting wines from a particular range (probably using Great Wine Made Simple, just because, well, I've always wanted to do that.
posted by canine epigram at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2006

The Greek dessert wine Mavrodaphne is actually recommended to pair with chocolate. Cheap, too.
posted by adipocere at 3:21 PM on August 16, 2006

There's a place here in South Australia that makes shiraz, merlot, and cabernet chocolate. Just like fruit and nut chocolate, but they use the grapes from those varieties. It's fantastic.
posted by twirlypen at 3:55 PM on August 16, 2006

Check out this huge round-up of pairings from the food blogosphere:

Wine Blogging Wednesday #13 - Like Wine for Chocolate
posted by rorycberger at 5:39 PM on August 16, 2006

Forget the wine, go with dark chocolate and a nice port. I like Taylor 20 year (~$40), but if you'll be trying it for the first time, you might want something cheaper.
posted by booksherpa at 9:26 PM on August 16, 2006

I think I'm thinking of the same stuff as twirlypen mentioned. I've only ever seen it in one shop here in Melbourne and can't think of the brand name off the top of my head, but it's a dark chocolate with a choice of three varieties of grapes - Pinot Noir, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.
We tried the Pinot Noir chocolate (paired with a bottle of same, of course) and it was utterly magnificent.

Last night I savoured a glass of merlot paired with one of those new XXX Mars Bars so make of that what you will.
posted by goshling at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2006

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